A civil emergency has been declared in Tulsa, Oklahoma, ahead of President Donald Trump’s first post-lockdown rally, which is scheduled to take place there on Saturday.
The emergency and a curfew, which applies to the area around the BOK Center, where the rally will be held, were imposed through an executive order issued Thursday by Republican Mayor G.T. Bynum.
The curfew took effect at 10 p.m. Thursday and is in effect until 6 a.m. Saturday. It will also be in effect from the close of the rally until 6 a.m. Sunday.
In a copy of the order posted on Twitter by the Tulsa Police Department, Bynum said the order is being put in place against a backdrop of civil unrest and protests in Tulsa as well as the nation, and his concerns that the Trump rally could be a flashpoint for a confrontation.
“I have received information from the Tulsa Police Department and other law enforcement agencies that shows that individuals from organized groups who have been involved in destructive and violent behavior in other States are planning to travel to the city of Tulsa for purposes of causing unrest in and around the rally,” Bynum said in the executive order.
The order has three curfew restrictions.
“People are prohibited from walking, running, loitering, standing or motoring upon any alley, street, highway, public property, sidewalk, or vacant premises within the boundaries indicated above, except for official designated duty in response to the emergency, providing public safety services, or going to or from a place of residence or work,” it said.
Reflecting the fear that arson could take place, the order added that “The manufacture, transfer, use, possession or transportation of a Molotov cocktail or any other device, instrument or object designed to explode or produce uncontained combustion is prohibited within the limits of the City of Tulsa.”
?CURFEW IN EFFECT FOR DOWNTOWN?
As part of our preparations for President Trump’s Rally this Saturday, we are working on making the area secure for everyone’s safety.
As posted earlier, the area illustrated in this map will need to be free of vehicles and pedestrian traffic. pic.twitter.com/uT76N0IWRc
— Tulsa Police (@TulsaPolice) June 19, 2020
“The transporting, possessing or using of gasoline, kerosene, or combustible, flammable, or explosive liquids or materials in a glass or uncapped container of any kind is prohibited within the limits of the City of Tulsa, except in connection with the normal operation of motor vehicles, normal home use or legitimate commercial use,” it said.
Some Trump supporters had been camping out for days in front of the rally venue to ensure they could get a place in the 19,000-seat BOK Center.
Police tweeted that they will ask people who “refuse to leave the area” to leave, but that those refusing to do so could be arrested.
If people refuse to leave the area, they may be cited or arrested.
This is an unprecedented event for the City of Tulsa and has hundreds of moving parts, we are asking for everyone’s help in making this a safe event for all citizens.
— Tulsa Police (@TulsaPolice) June 19, 2020
Some Trump supporters had been waiting days for choice spots, such as Robin Stites, 58, who had been waiting in line since Monday.
“I’d love to let him know we’re here for him. We want to show our support,” she told The Oklahoman. “We feel like President Trump and his family have dedicated their lives to helping our country. Sacrificing a week of our lives is nothing for what Trump has done for us.”
The issue of rally safety emerged this week as Tulsa reported an increase in coronavirus cases.
“I think it’s an honor for Tulsa to have a sitting president want to come and visit our community, but not during a pandemic,” Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa City-County Health Department, told Tulsa World. “I’m concerned about our ability to protect anyone who attends a large, indoor event, and I’m also concerned about our ability to ensure the president stays safe as well.”
Bynum said earlier in the week on his Facebook page that he would not block the rally.
“I also will not attempt to block the state government or the President of the United States by invoking the local civil emergency authority in our city ordinance. That authority was used earlier this year under extraordinary circumstances to prevent the catastrophic collapse of our local health care system. Today, that system’s capacity is strong,” he wrote.
“We are navigating a balance between freedom and safety that is new for every city around the world. We will continue to monitor hospital capacity and our positive case rate moving forward.”
Trump supporters attending the rally had to sign a waiver saying the Trump campaign was not liable if rally-goers were exposed to the coronavirus, according to Fox News.
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